Ang4him - A Moment in My Life

Share in the struggles, triumphs and laughter of raising three children,
and homeschooling while working full-time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Accountable Kids - Review

About a month ago I did a post called Accountable Kids - The Journey Begins.  We are now just a little over a month into the program - we have implemented 3 of the 4 phases. 

I originally decided to try this program because I have friends who have raved about it.  My children are not bad kids by any means, but to be honest - I was exhausted.  They are so active (daughter just turned 9 and my boys are 5 1/2 and 4 years old).  In addition, I was tired of repeating myself and feeling like no matter how much time I spent cleaning the house, I had little whirlwind messes following right behind me.  I work full-time and homeschool two of my kids.  My house usually takes a back seat because I often feel that I have to choose between keeping up the house and spending time with my family.

Our boards - painted in each child's favorite color - of course!
The Accountable Kids program  helps parents to teach their children accountability and responsibility.  And it empowers children because they learn that they are a productive part of the family - thereby developing a healthy self-esteem and confidence.  And it helps to teach children to take pride in what they do and discourages attitudes of entitlement.

I've used chore charts and stickers with my daughter before but they never stuck with my family.  This is different because it is about more than just doing some things around the house to earn a prize.  And I don't have to go out of my way to buy special expensive prizes to give the kids. 

The key to teaching your kids responsibility is consistency.  I realized I lacked in this area in some ways.  I've still not totally got it figured out, but this program is great because it helps me to be consistent with the kids.
Close up of Jesse's board - our 4 year old - extra chore of cleaning the bathroom is split between all three children, each has a section that they are responsible for completing.

There are four phases to the program:

The first step introduces the concept of core chores (daily chores expected of each child for which no payment is received).  They are also introduced to tickets which can be earned by completing all chores on time.  These tickets are used for things they've been doing in the past already (television, video games, etc) for which mom & dad want them to realize they are privileges, not things they are entitled to get.  This was huge for my children.  They are learning to manage their own television time now.  The first night we did this my 4 year old actually spent almost 5 minutes really thinking about whether or not he wanted to give up one of his tickets to watch television before bed.  I think he handed me his ticket and then took it back about 3 times before he finally decided he was willing to trade one of his precious tickets for television privileges.

A list of items that will cause a ticket to be lost is also created.  These are things that will cause the child to lose an earned ticket immediately, no warning.  For our family these include hitting, kicking, fighting, whining, and being disrespectful.  It was a real eye-opener for the boys the first time they wanted to watch television but could not because they had lost their tickets and could not trade one in for t.v. privileges. 

The best behavior card is also introduced in the first step which had become a coveted prize in my family.  The kids are allowed to use it just like a ticket, but I've found for them it is more of a reward to just have it hanging on their board.  They use it last and many times will bypass privileges just to be able to leave the best behavior card on their board.

The second phase introduces the privilege pass which helps parents to address specific bad habits that they want to replace with new behavior.  Also the date card is introduced.  I was a little leery of this one at first, because I did not want my kids thinking they had to "earn" time with Mommy & Daddy.  But I've found we can still spend time alone with each of them as we used to - this is just an added extra special time that they can earn.  And it does not have to be expensive either.  My kids love to just go out back after dark with a blanket and look at the stars alone with one of us. 

The third phase introduces extra chores which the children can earn bonus bucks for doing.  These are turned in the end of each week for real money which they can spend as they see fit.   Savings can also be introduced at this point.  For our children half of what they earn during the week is going to their "savings" account which we track on sheets posted on our wall.  At any time they can see what they have in their savings.  The half that they get to keep really helps to develop confidence in them too.  When we go somewhere now my kids are asking if they can buy something instead of asking me to buy it for them.  And they are putting much more thought into what they ask for, even my 4 year old. 

You also introduce the helping hand card.  This makes the kids consciencely think of something nice to do for someone else during the day.  My kids love each night sharing what they've done for their helping hand during the day.  Many days they have more than one thing to share.

In the last step you introduce the family forum and quiet time.  We've not gotten to this step yet with my family, although we do already kind of do the family forum since we meet briefly each week on Sunday to turn in bonus bucks and review the ticket lists posted on our refrigerator (list of items tickets can be traded in for and list of things that will cause the children to lose a ticket).

I think one of the main reasons I love this program is because it is so flexible.  I've tailored it to fit each of my kids and as they get older some of their extra chores will become core chores.  As I see what is and is not working with each child I can add and subtract things as necessary. 

The key to this program and I think anything you do to teach your kids responsibility is consistency.  I've still not got this totally figured out, but the boards are a visual reminder to me each day to be consistent, just as they are a reminder to the kids of what they need to do as a part of this family.  I've seen a huge improvement in my daughter - she thrives on this.  The boys also love the program. 

Boys cleaning the table after eating
One big change has been mornings.  Since we both work we have a certain amount of time to get us and the kids ready each morning.  In the past I would find myself rushing and many times yelling and threatening the kids in order to get us all out the door on time.  Now most mornings the kids are all ready way before I am.  They get up and know exactly what to do and get it done.  Every once in awhile we'll have a bad morning but they don't earn their ticket for morning chores if they are not done and/or if Mommy has to remind them of what needs to be done.  I've found we never have two bad mornings in a row.  Not earning their ticket is reminder enough to get them back to helping out as they should.

My middle child struggles the most with the program (he finally just earned his first Best Behavior card today!).  He has trouble thinking ahead to consequences, but even though he struggles I have seen an improvement in him too.  It is just coming a little slower.  And part of it is consistency on my part.  I've noticed when he starts getting difficult again, it is usually because I've become a bit slack in being consistent and sticking to my guns on certain things.

Overall, this program has been wonderful for my family and we've stuck with it for over a month now.  That is big for us.  I will be traveling to see family in August and I'm looking forward to taking this program with me and continuing it while we are away from home. 

If you are struggling to teach your children responsibility and accountability, if they are getting to the point where they feel they are entitled to things or if you are just tired and frustrated - I would highly recommend Accountable Kids.  There has been some times of testing where I've been discouraged, but I chose to stick with it and I'm seeing the improvements, sometimes little, sometimes big.  I find myself repeating myself less and less (and if I do it is usually because I'm not being consistent with the program) and I'm finding it so much easier to get the kids to clean up after themselves and help keep the house clean.  I'm actually able to spend time with my kids now and focus on them.  In the past I was always thinking in the back of my mind about all the things I still needed to do.  They have more confidence and I am less stressed and exhausted.  And I'm seeing more cooperation between the kids.  It is Amazing!  A definite God-send for my family

Tyler vacuuming the front living room
To learn more about the program visit their website at Accountable Kids - watch both videos on the main page.  They explain about the program and will answer many of your questions.  And I definitely recommend getting the kit which includes the book.  There are so many helpful ideas in it.  I read it cover to cover before I started the program and I'm still constantly referring to it for ideas.

Note:  By doing this post I'm taking advantage of another wonderful part of this program.  Currently if you write a blog review of the program you can get a "rebate" on part of your original purchase price.  I would be writing a review either way and in fact I had already posted about our initial experience last month here.  How amazing is that?!

3 comments: said...

good blog :))

Edie Mindell said...

It's nice to know that the kids are really trained to be helpful inside the house. It would surely reap good results when they grow up.:-)

mother of the bride dresses long said...

Hi guys, you are very hard woorking, a very happy family!